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These days it seems like a lot of the city’s underground is turning into a mall – but that’s not always a bad thing particularly when there’s a conversion of previously underutilized spaces. Many places, like Fulton Center and the World Trade Center Transportation Hub (Santiago Calatrava’s “Soaring Bird station”) have taken inspiration from the success of the retail at Grand Central Terminal. Even the long-maligned Penn Station has been gradually kicking out long standing businesses in the hopes of going upscale.

The latest of these transformations is TurnStyle in the Columbus Circle subway station, a $14.5 million private project financed by the Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group and Susan Fine, the principal of Oases RE, which manages leasing (and is behind Grand Central Terminal’s retail spaces). Turnstyle was designed by the firm Architecture Outfit and opened this past weekend.

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We’ve been seeing the construction between the 57th, 58th and 59th Street entrances for a while, which has finally yielded the new underground pedestrian thoroughfare. Within a 200 foot long pedestrian concourse there is now is 30,000 square feet of retail space with 10 restaurants and 22 shops.  Anchor tenants are balanced out by short-term leases at three months a piece, which allow for smaller businesses to try storefront retail.

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Food purveyors include Pressed Juicery, Blossom du Jour, Dylan’s Candy Bar, Doughnuttery, food truck favorite Bolivian Llama Party in its own storefront, Fika, Meltkraft, crepes By Suzette. Shopping options include accessories brand Studio Manhattan, The New Stand (which also has outposts in Brookfield Place and the Union Square subway station),

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Design wise, Architecture Outfit took the scale of the street and applied it to this concourse, using terminology like zoning and hot spots to describe the concept. They write, “Store type ‘zoning’ distinguished with distinct storefronts and sign types breaks-up the monotony of the long passageway. New small program ‘hot spots’ where people pause to eat, talk, or buy something are identified with colorful flooring, kiosks, and tables. Interactive digital columns, as physical objects and in their digital curation, will further contribute to the vitality of the space.”

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And of course, for those that must have their Starbucks – there’s one too.

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How far we’ve come at Columbus Circle, from a former theater district, to automobile row, to a faltering Coliseum, revived by the Time Warner Center whose influence is now stretching underground. Access Turnstyle through any corner of 57th/58th Street and 8th Avenue.

Next, check out Vintage Photographs of Columbus Circle over the years.